Hulu owners call off sale

Announcement ends months of speculation on who would turn in the best offer for the online video service.

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Steven Musil
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Hulu's owners have decided to take the online video service off the auction block.

The owners--Walt Disney, News Corp., Comcast, and equity firm Providence Equity Partners--announced today that they decided to terminate the sales process.

"Since Hulu holds a unique and compelling strategic value to each of its owners, we have terminated the sale process and look forward to working together to continue mapping out its path to even greater success," Hulu owners said in a statement. "Our focus now rests solely on ensuring that our efforts as owners contribute in a meaningful way to the exciting future that lies ahead for Hulu."

The announcement ends a parade of suitors reportedly bidding for the site.

Talk of Hulu possibly being acquired began earlier this year when Yahoo reportedly approached the company and offered to pay up to $2 billion to acquire Hulu if the deal would include four or five years of exclusive access to current TV shows and older movies. However, Hulu's owners were reportedly willing to offer the five years of access but only two years of exclusivity, and Yahoo recently reportedly withdrew from the process.

After reports that Yahoo had approached Hulu appeared, Hulu hired investment banks to help it field offers from other companies. Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Dish Network had also reportedly shown interest in Hulu, along with a host of other suitors. But Microsoft had also reportedly dropped out of the bidding.

One of the obstacles to crafting a satisfactory offer was that Hulu's owners haven't always been the most willing to share content on the Web. Fox Network announced recently it would begin delaying Web access to many of its popular TV shows to give cable and satellite TV providers greater exclusivity with programming. Even Hulu CEO Jason Kilar criticized television executives in a blog post as being unwilling to accept the changing ways in which people want to access content, which has only proven to hurt their companies.

Another obstacle was Hulu's board of directors, which reportedly was not sure it wanted to sell the service and still had the power to scuttle any deals.